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April 6, 2006
For immediate release
Education Budget Supports Literacy, Student Achievement and Post-secondary Learning
The Education operating budget for the year 2006-2007 is $230.4 million which is 5 per cent more than last year. The Department will receive another $9.4 million in the capital budget for school construction and capital projects.
Education Minister Mildred Dover said the substantial increase in the Education budget reflects the high priority that government places on education. “The new budget demonstrates our commitment to improve student achievement. Over the next three years, $9 million will be made available to implement the recommendations of the Task Force On Student Achievement,” she said.
The Task Force noted that the single most significant factor affecting a child’s success in school and in life is learning to read. The new budget contains funding to identify the resources and strategies needed to ensure that, within five years, all children will have supports to read at a grade 3 level by the end of grade 3.
Minister Dover noted that a high quality education begins with sound and up-to-date curriculum, as well as tools to ensure that the curriculum is being covered and outcomes are being achieved. The budget contains resources to begin the development of curriculum, standards, benchmarks and common assessment tools to measure student achievement in grades 3, 6, 9 and at the high school level. It also includes funding to develop curriculum to support the new Trades Training Strategy, and to help high school students achieve the literacy and numeracy levels required by technical and trades programs.
Through the reactivation of the Instructional Staffing Model this year, six new positions will be added and 30 positions will be maintained that would otherwise have been lost due to declining enrolments. This represents an investment of approximately $2 million in 2006-2007.
Other funding includes $1.3 million to help school boards meet rising costs; an additional $220,000 for school library books; funding to pilot an Intensive Core French program; and resources to complete the development of a new provincial Literacy and Learning strategy.
Recognizing the increasing importance of post-secondary education, the operating grant to Holland College will be increased by $750,000 and government will continue to be a funding partner in the new Centre for Labour Force Innovation at Holland College.
UPEI will receive an additional $1.25 million in operational funding, as well as $1 million for its campus renewal campaign.
Minister Dover advised that education partners are pleased with the new budget because it enables them to maintain and improve existing programs, make strategic new investments in student achievement, and provide access to affordable high quality post-secondary education and skills training programs in Prince Edward Island.
EDUCATION BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS
Curriculum, Assessment and Literacy:
$9 million will be invested over three years to implement the recommendations of the Task Force On Student Achievement. New funding of $1 million will be provided to begin this work in 2006-2007. A total of $3 million will be provided in 2007-2008, and $5 million in 2008-2009. Funding will be allocated this year to begin work in the following priority areas:
• Development of curriculum, standards, benchmarks, and common assessment tools to measure student achievement in grades 3, 6, 9 and at the high school level.
• Identification of resources and strategies to ensure that all children are reading at a grade 3 level by the end of grade 3.
• Development of new curriculum to support the new Trades Training Strategy, and to help high school students achieve literacy and numeracy proficiencies required by technical and trades programs.
This work will be overseen by a steering committee which includes Shauna Sullivan Curley, Deputy Minister; Linda Lowther, Senior Director of Public Education; Ken MacRae, Senior Director of Higher Education and Corporate Services; Giséle St. Amand, Superintendent, French Language School Board; Dale Sabean, superintendent, Western School Board; and Dr. Sandy MacDonald, Superintendent, Eastern School District.
Instructional Staffing Model:
• Through the reactivation of the Instructional Staffing Model, six new positions will be added this year and at least 30 positions will be maintained that would have been lost due to declining enrolments.
• Some of the new positions will be designated to hire school psychologists who will assess and support children with learning difficulties, and work with the new Learning Disabilities Specialist on a strategy to increase capacity to support children with learning disabilities.
• The implementation of the staffing model this year represents an investment of over $2 million.
• Funding of $225,000 will be used to improve school library collections and to encourage more students to use school libraries. This represents an investment of approximately $10 per student.
• School boards will receive an additional $1.3 million for increasing costs such as electricity and fuel.
• School boards will receive $1 million for capital repairs and improvements.
• 16 new school buses will be purchased this year at a cost of $1.22 million. The replacement rate will ramp up to 24 in 2010, an increase of 60 per cent in the annual bus replacement rate.
• Construction will begin this spring on the new French school in West Prince and the $3 million renovation and expansion of Parkside Elementary School. Planning will begin for a gym addition at Tracadie Cross Consolidated School and a $14 million high school project in Montague.
• Services for Aboriginal and immigrant students will be enhanced through the provision of a full-time Aboriginal and Diversity Education Specialist position.
• Intensive Core French programs will be piloted in two grade 6 classes.
Post-secondary Education and Training:
• UPEI will receive an increase of $1.25 million to address increasing operating costs. In addition, UPEI will receive $1 million as part of government’s commitment to the campus renewal campaign. A new funding agreement will be negotiated this year for the Atlantic Veterinary College at UPEI.
• The operating grant to Holland College will increase by $750,000. The new Centre for Labour Force Innovation will open at Holland College in September 2006.
Literacy and Lifelong Learning:
• Partners will continue to develop a provincial Literacy and Learning Strategy.
• A Premier’s Literacy Summit will be held within the coming months.
• A social marketing campaign will be launched to increase awareness that reading is the key to all learning and that it is never too early or too late to learn.